Course Syllabus


Contact Information

Instructor: Tarek Saab
Office: NPB 2354
Email: Use Canvas mail
Class Hours: Tue, Thursday, Periods 4&5 (10:340am–12:35 pm), NPB 1002
Office Hours: TBD

Course Details 

Prerequisites: PHY 2060 (Calculus-based Newtonian mechanics course)
Corequisite: MAC 2313 (Calculus III)

Course Description: This is the second course of the enriched sequence. The objective of the course is to obtain a thorough understanding of electricity and magnetism. Emphasis is placed on applying these concepts to the explanation of real world phenomena modern technological developments. Covered topics include electrostatics, Gauss's Law, potentials, vector analysis, Laplace's equation, conductors and insulators, circuits, magnetism, Maxwell's equations and Electromagnetic fields in matter.

This course adopts the “flipped classroom” format, wherein there will be no formal lectures during class time. Students are expected to do the necessary preparation, including, but not limited to, reading the relevant material prior to coming to class and completing the pre-lecture online quiz. Class room time will be used primarily for working on the group based projects and problem sets as well as for live demonstrations of relevant electromagnetic phenomena.

Textbook: The required text is Principles & Practice of Physics, by Eric Mazur (Pearson) ISBN: 0-321-94920-X. Additionally, a suggested (but note required) text is  Physics, Volume 2 (5th edition) by David Halliday, 
Robert Resnick, and Kenneth S. Krane (Wiley), ISBN: 0471401943.

Canvas: All of the material and announcements for this course will be posted on the course’s Canvas website. This includes the syllabus, an up-to-date calendar, topic list and assignments. You can log directly into this course by going to the following url:

Web access: You will need a laptop or tablet to participate in and carry out some of the in class activities. Plan on bringing your device to each class. (You may use a smartphone if you wish, however, the screen size can be limiting). If you do not have access to a compatible device, we will work on finding a way to accommodate you.

Course Structure

The work you will be doing as part of this course consists of a combination of pre-class individual preparation, in-class individual and group based problem solving, and out-of-class group based projects.

  1. Pre-Class Individual Preparation:
    1. Write your own E&M book:
      You will be writing your own notes, summarizing content from the text book, commenting on the material, asking questions and answering other students’ questions. This activity should produce a document that can serve as an excellent set of study notes which contains all the concepts that are relevant to you.


Purpose: The purpose of this activity is to provide you with a first exposure to the relevant material so that the in-class time can be used for more in-depth, applied work. This will also allow me survey the class’s overall understanding of the material and tailor the following class appropriately.

      Evaluation: Your contributions to "Write your own E&M book” will be evaluated on quality (thoughtfulness), quantity, and timeliness. See the Grading Rubric section for details.

    2. Pre-class online quizzes:
      Prior to each class period there will be a short quiz (delivered via Canvas) based on the topics you will be working on in the upcoming class. The questions will primarily be short and conceptual in nature.


Purpose: The purpose of this activity is to provide you with direct feedback on your understanding of the of the material. The questions are tailored to help you identify any gaps in your preparation and to allow me to directly address any issues/difficulties/misconceptions during the class period.

      Evaluation: Your performance of the online quizzes will be a part of the final grade. This is primarily meant to give you an incentive to keep up with the material. See the Grading Rubric section for details.

  2. In-class activities: Rather than just "re"-presenting the content of the textbook to you, class time will be used to build on the knowledge acquired during you individual preparation. In-class activities will consist of:
    1. “Live" demonstration and discussion of electromagnetic phenomena.

      Purpose: Unlike mechanics, electromagnetism can be a very abstract and mathematical topic. Additionally, there is typically little opportunity to experience and interact with electromagnetic phenomena in day-to-day life. Demonstrations can provide significant credibility and insight into the material.

    2. Guided problem solving.


Purpose: Although there are many ways to approach and solve problems, and the best ones for you tend to be the ones you develop yourself, it can be useful to observe the strategies and techniques of an experienced* practitioner in the field. Some of these examples will also be available to view on video at your convenience.
      (*Warning: this does not mean that the instructor is infallible. We make mistakes all the time.)

    3. Order of magnitude estimates of E&M effects in real world applications.
      Working in groups, you attempt to determine (to the nearest order of magnitude) quantities/values. Rigorous derivations and blind guessing are not useful, and this is the only instance when just looking things up online is not allowed.

      Purpose: Estimation skills that are of fundamental important to learning and using physics. Estimations fall into two categories: 1. Mathematical estimation: Often, working with an exact analytical function is not practical and knowing how to approximate the function’s behavior for small or large value of a variable is very useful. 2. Physical estimation: Many physical values are impossible to determine exactly, e.g. How many total electrons are there on Earth, or what is the net charge of a typical person, but can be determined with sufficient accuracy (i.e. order of magnitude) to allow for meaningful calculations.


Evaluation: This will be conducted in a group based competition format with the winning group getting bragging rights, however, this will not factor in the determination of your final grade.

    4. Formal problem set work (in individual and group formats). 
      Your group will be given (ahead of time) a set of problems to solve. Each group member is responsible for preparing one problem before coming to class. In class you will work with your group to complete the problems, identify and correct any errors in your or your group mates’ problems, resolve any conceptual difficulties associated with the material.

      Purpose: Develop your problem-solving skills and allow for self-assessment of your knowledge.

      Evaluation: Your performance in this activity will factor in the determination of your final grade. Your work is evaluated both on the effort you put into the application of problem solving steps and the correctness of the solution. See the Grading Rubric for details.

    5. In-class quizzes. We will have an in-class quiz roughly every two weeks. The format will be similar to the formal problem sets in that you will initially work individually and submit your own responses, then you will convene with your group to discuss your solutions and arrive at a single agreed upon solution for the group.

      Purpose: To keep everyone on track in learning the basic concepts and ensure that you have the necessary background to carry out the project and other class activities.

      Evaluation: Your performance in this activity will factor in the determination of your final grade. Your total score is based equally on your performance in the individual and group portions. See the Grading Rubric for details.

    6. Group project work.
      You will perform three month-long projects over the course of the semester, each one with a different group. At the beginning of each project, you will receive a project brief that details the goals and guidelines for that project.

      Purpose: To transfer the knowledge and you’ve gained to more than just 8x11 sheets of paper. You will work with your group to produce a particular "final product", as well as give a presentation and a written report on your final product.

      Evaluation: Your performance in this activity will factor in the determination of your final grade. The project presentation and project reports will both be evaluated. See the Grading Rubric for details.


Your grade is determined by the continuous assessment of the class activities throughout the semester. Your performance (for all of the activities) will be evaluated on a 2 point scale:

0 Inadequate work for the specific activity
1 Adequate work, but some improvement is needed
2 Meets expectations for the specific activity
3 Significantly exceeds expectations (given only for the most exceptional cases)

Each activity will contribute up to 2 points to your total score. For the group based activities all members of a group will receive the same score, however, to encourage teamwork and avoid the temptation of letting other group members do the heavy lifting, you will also receive a peer evaluation score.

Category Activity Points
Preparation Commenting/annotating the textbook 0—2
Online Quiz 0—2
Demonstrating Proficiency In-class quiz Quiz 0—2
In-class problem sets 0—2
Application of acquired knowledge Project 0—2
Team work Peer valuation -2—+2

Peer evaluation

At the end of each group cycle, you will be asked to submit an assessment of the relative contributions of the group members (including yourself) to the project and other group activities. In addition to any written comments you wish to provide, you will evaluate each group member on a scale of -2 — +2, where 0 means that the individual in question did their fair share of the work, +1 means that they did more than their fair share, and -1 means less. In exceptional circumstances you may the extreme scores of ±2.

The catch: Since it does not make sense to say that everyone did more (or less) that their fair share the total score of the group should add up to 0. i.e. If one group member was assigned a +1 (i.e. they did more than their share of the work) some one else must have done less. In a perfect case scenario everyone will receive an evaluation of 0 (0 is not a bad thing). Your peer evaluation score will be based on the average of your evaluations by all group members (including yourself).

Grading Scale

Your letter grade for the course will be determined as follows:

Letter Grade Total Points
A 10
A- 9
B+ 8
B 7
B- 6
C+ 5
C 4
C- 3
D+ 2
D 1


The course grades are not curved (i.e. your letter grade only depends on your total score). Follow this link to the UF grading policy.

Grading Rubrics

Category Activity Points
0 1 2
Preparation Commenting / annotating the text book Quality Does not demonstrate any thoughtful reading of the chapter  Demonstrates reading, but no (or only superficial) interpretation of the chapter Demonstrates thorough and thoughtful reading AND insightful interpretation of the chapter 
Quantity Fewer than 5 thoughtful comments 5–10 thoughtful comments that are concentrated in a few sections 5–10 thoughtful comments that touch upon each section of the chapter 
Online Quiz % of total points <25% 25%-75% >75%
Demonstrating Proficiency In-class quiz Quiz % of total points <25% 25%-75% >75%
In-class problem sets 50% or less completed or significantly worked out problems >50% completed or significantly worked out problems >75% completed or significantly worked out problems
Application of acquired knowledge Project Details will be provided at the beginning of each project


Other Information

Attendance and make up assignments: Regular attendance is expected and strongly encouraged, but is not enforced. The schedule for in-class quizzes will be announced well in advance of the event. Missing a quiz exam will automatically result in a score of 0 for that item. Make up quizzes/exams will be given only for valid excused absences e.g. officially sanctioned UF events, medical excuses or family emergencies. If you are aware of a valid conflict with an upcoming quiz/exam you are strongly encouraged to inform the instructor and make the makeup arrangements as early as possible. If you miss classes where group related project activity occurs you will have to make arrangements with your group members about making up the work.

Outside Help Services: The Teaching Center in Broward Hall (tel. 392-2010) offers a range of free services, including individual tutoring in physics.

Accommodations: Students requesting classroom accommodations must first register with the Disabilities Resources Program, located in the Dean of Students Office, P202 Peabody Hall. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student, who must then deliver this documentation to the instructor when requesting accommodations.

Academic Honesty: All University of Florida students are required to abide by the University's Academic Honesty Guidelines and by the Honor Code, which reads as follows: We, the members of the University of Florida community, pledge to hold ourselves and our peers to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. On all work submitted for credit by students at the University of Florida, the following pledge is either required or implied: "On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid in doing this assignment." Cheating, plagiarism, or other violations of the Academic Honesty Guidelines will not be tolerated and will be pursued through the University's adjudication procedures.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due